Thursday, 17 January 2019

Strange spam

From: Rosie L. Ashton <>
To: {redacted}
Subject: Up to date emergency exit map
   1 Shown    ~9 lines  Text
   2   OK    ~20 lines  Text

Hi All,
Please find below the Up to date emergency exit map.

Emergency exit map.

Rosie L. Ashton,
Estate Management

A very strange spam. There was nothing enclosed, no product on offer. So I looked deeper, and the "Emergency exit map" is a link to a web site which I'm not going to visit.

Beware of what you click on!

Now listen ...

My hearing isn't too good. I have trouble when there's a lot of noise going on and I cant focus on the conversation, especially when people aren't facing me when I talk.

I had a hearing test, but they said I was fine. So - hearing aid?

I decided on something more drastic; a unidirectional microphone with a paraboloid reflector (which will help with the unidirectionality), with an amplifier. And a filter for high/low frequency sound.

This sounds expensive - a good digital hearing aid can be well over £1000. But this wasn't. £20 got me a device that is used for listening to birdsong at a distance, and as a bonus, it can record what you hear.

And it works!

I can't wait for the next time I go out with the family to a restaurant, and I bring out this device.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

May loses big

432 to 202, the biggest government defeat for nearly 100 years. So that's the May Deal out of the window.

 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

What next?

Tomorrow, there will be a confidence vote on the government. I think that Corbyn is right to call it, but the Tory government will win, because they can't afford to lose, because that leads to a General Election, and the possibility that the Tories are out of government.

Then May has three days to explain plan B.

There is no plan B, of course. I will not be surprised if she resigns, on the grounds that she's done her best, and someone else can clean up this mess.

There will be much talk of another referendum, carefully camouflaged by calling it a "People's Vote". There will be talk of postponing March 29, which I think actually can't be done. There will be talk of cancelling Brexit, which can be done, but will be voted down if asked. There will be much talk of Canada, and Norway, and shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings. And there will be much talk of "crashing out, leaving without any deal", for which there is no parliamentary majority, but that's what will happen unless we change course.

And I think that the steering and brakes on this particular bus, have failed. We're crashing out. No deal.

So let me explain my own particular little problem, and it is to do with VAT.

I charge VAT on sales, of course, to sales to the UK and the other 27 EU countries. And every three months, I total up sales to each country, and work out the VAT for each country, using the VAT rate of that country (which varies between 17% and 25%) and pay that VAT to each country, using a scheme called "VAT MOSS".

So, after March 29, and if there's no deal, what do I do? Do I charge VAT on sales to EU countries? I don't see a good reason why I should, just as I don't charge VAT on sales to the USA.

Or am I wrong? I've asked HMRC; they don't know either.

And, of course, it isn't just me, and it isn't just VAT.


Friday, 28 December 2018

Ebay refund.

On December 2, I bought five Google Homes from Currys (via eBay), to be Christmas presents for various people. On December 4, four of them arrived. I waited a couple of days, but the fifth one didn't turn up, so I used the eBay "communicate with seller" to ask what the situation was.

I got an automated reply; I had to phone them or email them. They didn't seem to use the eBay facility.

So I phoned them, which had the effect you'd expect. Long hold queues, shuttled from department to department, and eventually someone said they'd look into it.

And I also emailed, which had a similar effect.

By December 14, nothing had happened, so I raised it on eBay as an issue. In the past, that has led to rapid results - in this case, it led to nothing.

After 8 days of nothing, you can escalate it, and eBay steps in, so I did. But eBay told me that there had indeed been a delivery (yes, I know that, that's the four-not-five). So I explained again. And they repeated that the delivery had been made.

And they suggested that to take this further, I had to report it to the police as a crime and get a crime number, then eBay would take it further. Wait, what? I'm being told to waste police time on a £29 parcel that has gone astray?

So I left it a couple more days, and then I got an email from Currys, telling me they've done a refund of the £29. Hurrah.

But. So much for the eBay guarantee. Will I be so keen on eBay in future? I don't think so.

Vat change

HMRC send me a barrage of emails, offering webinars and other time-wasting useless advice. The one I got today, is typical.

It's December 28, 2018. This email is to warn me of a change that's happening to the way we pay VAT to EU countries, as of 1st January 2019. Thanks for the warning, guys. Three days to make the change.

The last time they did this, was when they decided that we have to pay VAT on EU sales, at the rate of VAT that each country charges, instead of the 20% that we have in the UK. This did almost nothing to the amount I paid, but added a considerable amount to me workload. And I had to make the change three days before the deadline, because they didn't bother to tell me about it, and I found out by accident.

This time, they are telling me that if my sales to EU countries are less than  £8,818 (per year, exclusive of VAT), then I can forget the new complicated system and just pay VAT on it as if it were sales in the UK.

I'm way above that threshold, and they know that because I send in a VAT return each quarter. So why did they send me that email? Because they can't be bothered to send their spam to only those who are affected by it.

But there is something I would like to know.

We leave the EU on March 29, 2019, that's three months away. When that happens, do I charge VAT on sales to EU countries? Currently, I don't charge VAT on sales to the USA, or any other non-EU country. So after we leave (if indeed we do leave), do I charge VAT on sales to, for example, Germany?

Has anyone even started to think about this?

My default position is that after we leave the EU, there's no reason why I would charge VAT on EU sales, because they become like the USA. But I really would like definitive guidance from HMRC on this.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Gatwick misery

If you really want to hurt the UK, buy a couple of large cheap drones and fly them near a UK airport. Get two people flying them, and keep relocating by car so they don't catch you.

We have absolutely no defence to this.   Gatwick has been closed for 24 hours now.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Christmas presents

I am really difficult to buy presents for. My needs are simple, and can be supplied by Sports Direct and the takeaway round the corner. So what to get me for Xmas?

Mostly, books. During the year, I occasionally visit the Amazon web site, and when I see a book I like the look of, I add it to my Christmas list. So, by the end of the year, there's a good bunch of books, which I email to my daughters, and then haul away as gifts at Christmas time.

But ladysolly wanted to go for somethng better. After much thought, I decided that it would be nice to have another big monitor.

I have a Acer ET430K 43" LED 3840 by 2160 monitor, which I got last year. For Christmas. And I thought, it would be rather nice to have another one! So I went to Ebay, and found that the cheapest one was £503 (there were some nice 40 inch monitors for a bit less). Then I noticed that it was on sale from Scan, who I often buy things from. So I checked their web site, and, to my surprise, I could get it from there for somewhat less - £461, including delivery.

The one I've already used for a year, is really excellent, and I can recommend it, although you might need to upgrade your video card to get the full resolution. It means that I have a truly huge screen space, so have have a lot of windows open on any of the workspaces.

Merry Christmas!